There is a limited amount of technology in my classroom for anyone to use, let alone students. I only have three netbooks, but I always keep them charged and have told my students repeatedly to use them if they want to do a search for something I was discussing.
I have 1 student whose computer has been broken for weeks and he still has not filled out the first day of school info sheet on the website. So, I turned on the netbook, plopped it on his desk and had him complete the form. I move on with the lesson and I notice that about halfway through the period he still has the computer open and is staring intently at the screen. There’s no way that it is taking him 20+ minutes to fill out this questionnaire, so I swing over to see what he is doing as the rest of the class is copying some notes.
In the course of the lesson on the atom, I mentioned that you can put a halogen lightbulb in a microwave and it will glow from the microwaves excited the atoms. He heard this and decided to look it up on Youtube. Well, that video led him to a series of videos of people microwaving different materials and explaining why the material that it was made of smoked or conducted electricity or glowed. He was fascinated! When I asked him what he was watching, he got so excited and started describing to the class what happened to a CD.
Can he write shorthand notation for identifying protons, neutrons and electrons in an atom? No. Was he excited about learning and engaged for the entire period? Absolutely.
So, what was the more important lesson he learned today?